What is Lectio Divina?
Lectio divina is a Latin term that translates roughly as “sacred reading.” It is a spiritual discipline developed by monastics and best known as the technique of personal prayer practiced by the Benedictines. I learned about it through a most fabulous book called In the Spirit of Holiness by the Monks of New Skete, the same monks who raise and train German Shepherds and have written several dog obedience books.
The discipline involves reading from sacred texts in a very specific and deliberate way. The assumption when beginning a session of lectio divina is that the spirit desires to act as a personal teacher and will speak to you through the scriptures that you read. In the true version as practiced by Benedictines, there are four steps:
Lectio – reading slowly and deliberately the given text, several times if necessary
Meditatio – finding the verse or section that speaks to you or seems to have special meaning for you
Oratio – listening for any special lesson that is meant for you in this section
Contemplatio – wordless sitting with this message
I confess to a slightly shortened and more efficient method because of my current lifestyle. I use the readings for the day as contained in the Catholic lectionary. The Catholic Church uses a three-year cycle that goes through most of the major books of the Bible over three years. Daily Mass readings include a Psalm, a Gospel, and part of some of book in the Bible. The Sunday Mass always includes an Old Testament reading, a Psalm, a New Testament reading, and a Gospel reading.
I read and look for a verse or more that seems to be directed at me. I write this in my journal and then reflect on whatever specific thoughts it brings up. I always find SOMETHING that has meaning for me, and I especially know that’s the case when I don’t like what I hear. I think of this, irreverently I’m sure, as a Godsmack. I always know I have deserved it.